Monday, August 31, 2015

Israeli Peaceniks Attacked by Right Wing Extremists in 2014 War

Most people deeply yearn for peace. Israeli Jews are no different. During last year's tragic war in Gaza in which over 2000 people died, mostly Palestinians, many Israelis chose to protest against the war.

Armstrongism tends to be sympathetic towards the State of Israel concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But what about those Israeli Jews who do not quite fit Armstrongism's views concerning the State of Israel? What if some Israelis were attacked by other Israelis? Would it even be noticed by Armstrongism?How would that fit their dogmas?

But during the war Israeli right wing extremists conducted a campaign of violence and intimidation against anti-war protesters, Israeli Arabs and Israeli leftists who called for peace. That is the shocking truth revealed in Max Blumenthal's recent book, The 51 Day War.

In Chapter 9 of that book, "Good Night Left Side" it is revealed that during the course of the war right wing extremists in the State of Israel exploited the tense situation to conduct a campaign of intimidation and violence against Israelis who called for peace.

During the war a Facebook group named Order Number 8 became "an organizing hub for anti-leftist activity, inaugurating a nationwide movement named for the order issued to summon reservists to battle: Order Number 8."

It was organized by two right wing hip rappers named The Shadow and Subliminal. One Michael Ben-Ari, a leader among the settlers and former Member of the Knesset, is also identified as closely working with this group.

On July 12, 2014, these right wing extremists attacked a peace demonstration in Tel Aviv.
When the police fled the area during a rocket warning siren, the rightists promptly set in on the protesters, attacking anyone they could find with chairs, sticks, rocks, eggs, and their bare fists. Among the mobs that assaulted demonstrators were a group of Maccabi Ultras sporting t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, "Good Night Left Side"--a slogan first popularized by European neo-Nazis seeking to assault anti-fascist protesters. (Max Blumenthal, The 51 Day War, Chapter 9.)
During anti-war rallies the peace protesters were spied on by these right wing extremists and followed home and attacked. Here is what Blumenthal mentions occurred following a peace protest in Tel Aviv on July 26, 2014.
As soon as the protest concluded, small groups of rightists followed those they recognized as anti-war activists to their homes and attacked them at their doorsteps. (Max Blumenthal, The 51 Day War, Chapter 9.)
Personal details of leftist protesters were revealed to employers by the rightists associated with Order Number 8 and many of these peaceful protesters lost their work. Dozens of them according to Blumenthal.

This campaign of violence was so terrible that many Israeli leftists are considering leaving Israel.

Here is how one Haaretz editorial the violence visited upon Israeli leftists in July 2014 during the war.
“I’m at Habima. We are 50-60 proud Israelis, fighting back, standing in front of 300-400 Israel-hating leftists.” That’s how Israeli rapper Yoav Eliasi (whose stage name is Shadow) described the scene in front of him in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, on a video he posted to Facebook. In the post he invited right-wing activists to join him in order to disrupt a nonviolent protest that leftists had organized against Operation Protective Edge. “Don’t dismiss this, we need more lions here to stand up to the left,” said Eliasi.

His call to action did not fall on deaf ears. Within a short time, dozens of right-wingers streamed to Habima Square and set on the demonstrators with clubs, shouting “Death to Arabs” and “Leftists to the ovens.” They threw eggs at the leftists, hit them and chased after them.

According to the police, they tried to protect those being attacked. But the leftist demonstrators say they were beaten without the police intervening, with some people beaten unconscious. None of the rioters was arrested. (Police Are Obliged to Protect Every Israeli Citizen, Haaretz, July 15, 2014.)
Here is how one Jerusalem Post article described this violence against pro-peace leftists.
The Meretz Party on Sunday called on the Public Security Ministry to open an investigation into the actions of police amid reports of violence directed at anti-war protesters during a demonstration in Tel Aviv Saturday night.

Calling for an investigation, Meretz head Zehava Gal-On said, “It’s unacceptable that the police, instead of fulfilling their duty to protect protesters and their right to demonstrate, instead abandon them and defend the rioters.”...
Journalist and activist Haggai Matar ... [stated] that the violence started with threats and some shoving and that during the rocket siren, after police scattered, fights broke out in a number of different places.

He added that protesters asked police to call backup and told them they were worried they’d be attacked, but police did not heed their call.

He also dismissed the police claim that they haven’t received complaints, saying that he saw police pull aside people who had assaulted protesters, and then let them go without arrest. (Ben Hartman, Following assaults on anti-war protesters in Tel Aviv, parties on Left demand answers, Jerusalem Post, July 13, 2015.)
One article by a Jewish reporter from Mondoweiss visited Dimona, Israel, and heard from one man there mentioning the hatred towards Israeli leftists that existed there during the war last year. 
The climate of racism in Dimona peaked last summer during the war on Gaza, Sheen recalled. “When I walked down the street to the local bakery, there were adult men sitting outside the entrance openly speaking of mass-murdering leftist Israelis. They spoke without inhibition from making these statements aloud in one of the most popular public spaces in the city.” (Dan Cohen, Racism is part of the landscape in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, Mondoweiss, August 24, 2015.)
How terrible war is. This is terrible behavior that needs to be condemned. How can there possibly be peace if Israelis who call for peace are brutalized, attacked at home and hounded out of employment like this by right wing extremists shouting, "Leftists to the ovens"?

Did anyone among the COGs speak out against this campaign of violence? Considering how right wing the COGs tend to be would they bother to speak out on behalf of anyone who happens to be left wing? 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Israeli Right Scape Goating the Israeli Left

From Haaretz:
The nationalist right lives in cognitive dissonance, or maybe cuckoo-nitive dissonance. On the one hand, it has managed in 30 years of rule to eliminate every remnant of the left in Israel. On the other hand, the left still horrifies them, controlling the court system and higher education, the media and the culture – and they’re [the Israeli right] the ones who are afraid. So there’s no avoiding it: Against those who come to destroy you, to demolish you, all Hotovelyan means must be used.

This is a matter of seeing a shadow of the left and mistaking it for a real left. After all, the heads of the Zionist Union, both Isaac Herzog-Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yacimovich already announced that their party was never leftist, and never will be. So why does the right keep searching for their subversion and betrayal under their every vow of loyalty, instead of just leaving them alone? (Yossi Sarid, Meretz Is All That Remains of the Israeli Left - and Is More Relevant Than Ever, Haaretz, July 31, 2015.)

Haaretz Columnist Calls Israel Hayom Newspaper Netanyahu's Mouthpiece

From a Haaretz column that happens to be very critical about the recent agreement with Iran comes this characterization of the Israel Hayom newspaper as being Netanyahu's mouthpiece. It was written shortly before Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress.
We can assume that in the coming days we’ll see much more of Netanyahu and the blue pen in that photo. His spokesmen will tell us how busy he is making last-minute changes. His mouthpiece, the newspaper Israel Hayom, will probably trumpet this address for the umpteenth time as “the speech of his life.” (March 1, 2015.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

PCG and the Dark Side of Politicized Archaeology in East Jerusalem

October-November 2013 issue.

It is well known that PCG has for many years now conducted archaeological digs in Jerusalem associated with Dr. Eilat Mazar. But what is not so well known among those affected by Armstrongism is what is currently happening around the area in which these archaeological digs occur, namely in the predominantly Palestinian inhabited suburb of Silwan, a suburb of East Jerusalem. Do PCG's leaders and lay members fully understand what is happening at the moment in Silwan? People deserve to know what is happening.

PCG is so fixated on the precious archaeological artifacts in the ground but what about the people who now live there today so near to the archaeological digs PCG loves to boast about?

Introducing Elad (City of David)

Back in January 2008 Stephen Flurry wrote an article that talks about Elad, a settler organization that operates in East Jerusalem. The name Elad is based on an acronym meaning City of David.
One of our readers alerted us to a story that appeared in the South China Morning Post on January 3 (subscription only). In recent years, the article explains, a right-wing settler group known as Elad has transformed the City of David into one of Jerusalem’s most popular tourist attractions—drawing 350,000 visitors a year, most of them Israelis.

The location of the archaeological park is what makes it so controversial. It’s imbedded in the low-income Arab neighborhood of Silwan—in the annexed half of Jerusalem that Israel captured in 1967. Silwan has about 40,000 Arab residents. Since 1991, according to Elad spokesman Doron Spielman, about 300 Jews have moved into the neighborhood, most of them proudly flying Israeli flags, behind heavily fortified property lines.

Within the archaeological park, there are numerous ongoing excavations, both above ground and below—the best-known being King David’s palace, discovered in 2005. The SCMP article points out how some “dovish Israeli archaeologists” either disagree with the conclusions of their peers who are excavating the City of David or take exception with the strong emphasis tour guides place on the Jewish history being uncovered at the park. (Stephen Flurry, Division in the City of David, January 19, 2008.)
Later in the article the South China Morning Post article is quoted to mention a plan to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.
Palestinian fears of Israeli intentions are not entirely baseless. In 2005, Jerusalem municipal engineer Uri Shetreet announced plans to demolish an entire section of Silwan—88 homes—to make room for an archaeological park. Amid an international uproar, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski distanced himself from the plans. (South China Morning Post article as quoted in Stephen Flurry, Division in the City of David, January 19, 2008.)
So the Palestinians of Silwan are fearful that their homes will be demolished. That seems to be the simple truth behind what drives the Palestinians of Silwan to protest about these things.
The article concludes by quoting a dovish archaeologist who said, “Archaeology should not be a political tool.” Dr. Yoni Mizrachi, who wonders aloud if King David was anything more than a mythical figure, offers this tidbit of convoluted self-hatred:
If I find a synagogue or a mosque or a church [and] it tells me about the past of a place … that doesn’t mean that one person has more rights in a place because the find belongs to his culture. The past also belongs to those who live here now. Even if they found the palace of David, it doesn’t mean that what existed 3,000 years ago needs to be resumed today. 
He should apply that same “logic” on both sides. If it’s wrong for Jewish settlers to lay claim to the region by raising the ruins of their historical legacy, where does that leave Islamic scholars who inexplicably deny that those ruins even exist, or work behind-the-scenes to destroy them in some cases, all while holding the position that the Jewish nation is illegitimate and should be obliterated? (Stephen Flurry, Division in the City of David, January 19, 2008.)
It should be noted that when Stephen Flurry talks of Dr. Mizrachi's "convoluted self-hatred" he is accusing Dr. Mizrachi of being anti-Semitic even though he happens to be a Jew. How can one accuse a Jew of being anti-Semitic? By calling him or her a "self hating Jew". That is the concept Stephen Flurry is alluding to here.

But what Dr. Mizrachi says above seems perfectly sensible. What archaeological remains there are underground in Jerusalem, whatever they are, should not be used to force people out of their homes today, whether they are Palestinian or of any other ethnicity.

What if it was discovered that PCG's unaccredited College in Edmond happened to be built on top of a site sacred to Native Americans for thousands of years? Should PCG be forced to move out if such a thing happened?

Stephen Flurry talks of "Jewish settlers [trying] to lay claim to the region by raising the ruins of their historical legacy". This indicates that Stephen Flurry thinks these Israeli settlers associated with Elad are actually trying to lay claim to the land, namely the predominantly Palestinian inhabited suburb of Silwan, using archaeology. Does Stephen Flurry agree with using archaeology in that way? What about the Palestinians who live there already? Why won't he think about how they would view this matter?

The Palestinians of Silwan did not settle into Silwan to seize it from the State of Israel. Rather the State of Israel gained control of East Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967 with all these Palestinians there.

Stephen Flurry complains that some "Islamic scholars" said things that he disagrees with. Regardless of what these "Islamic scholars" may have said nevertheless archaeology must not be used to force people out of their homes. It is amazing that Stephen Flurry does not seem to understand that.

Archaeology "Hard-Wired" into Politics

Stephen Flurry mentioned Elad again in another article later in 2008.
Last Sunday, an Associated Press story run by numerous publications outlined how archaeology in Silwan is “hard-wired into the politics of modern-day Arab-Israeli strife” and that new digs in the ancient city are cutting to the heart of who owns the holy city today. “Palestinians and Israelis are trying again to negotiate a peace deal, one which must include an agreement to share Jerusalem,” the AP report says. “The collision in this neighbourhood—between Silwan and the City of David—encapsulates the complexities ahead.”

AP explains that in recent years, the Elad Foundation, an organization associated with the religious settlement movement, has funded archeological digs in the City of David, which is just outside the walled Old City. The area has expanded to become one of Jerusalem’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing 350,000 visitors a year, most of them Israelis. Within the archaeological park, there are numerous ongoing excavations, both above ground and below. ...

The location of the archaeological park, though, is what makes it so controversial. It’s imbedded in the low-income Arab neighborhood of Silwan—in the annexed half of Jerusalem that Israel captured in 1967 and which the Palestinians want for the capital of a Palestinian state. Silwan has about 40,000 Arab residents.

While Israel wants to reconnect with its past, Palestinians accuse the Jews of using archaeology as a political weapon. The AP says the Elad Foundation has a yearly budget of about $10 million, most of it from donations, “and is buying up Palestinian homes in Silwan to accommodate Jewish families. Around 50 have moved in so far, living in houses flying Israeli flags and guarded by armed security men paid for by the Israeli government.” (Stephen Flurry, Uncovering Ancient Jerusalem, February 15, 2008.)
So Stephen Flurry is aware that the Palestinians of Silwan think archaeology has been politicized. And being aware of this fear among Palestinians PCG nevertheless helps with an archaeological dig in this area.

60 Minutes Report on Elad (2010)

Back in October 2010 CBS's news program, 60 Minutes, made a report, Jerusalem: City of David, concerning Elad, this religious right wing organization in Israel. It points out that Elad is promoting Israeli Jewish settlers to move into Silwan, a predominantly Palestinian inhabited suburb of East Jerusalem.

Soon afterwards Joel Hilliker felt compelled to respond by making a little article about the 60 Minutes report. He links to the 60 Minutes report. He also links to responses by a pro-Israel organization. (Joel Hilliker, Video: City of David Dig Stirs Controversy, October 18, 2010.)

Elad Director Driving into Palestinian Boys

About 7 minutes 45 seconds into the report there is shocking footage of a driver, who happened to be the director of Elad, running into two young Palestinian boys with a car (7:45-8:13). No doubt being in a situation in which there are boys who might throw rocks at your car would be stressful. But to smash into two boys the way he did and consequently breaking the leg of one of them is terrible. It is disturbing footage seeing that car speed up and hit those little boys.

Joel Hilliker feels he needs to respond to it. So what does he do? He links to an article by some pro-Israel organization which insinuates that the hit and run incident was somehow staged, a collusion between reporters and stone throwers. The photographers caused it by being there, in is insinuated. No evidence is provided for this assertion. No connection is shown. It is merely assumed. Other events are mentioned which had no direct link to this incident. Events colored in a bad light with no proof behind it.

That perhaps the Elad director made a bad decision at that particular time in this unfortunate incident is never even presented as a possibility.

 Stephen Flurry's Narrow Response

A few days later Stephen Flurry wrote an article about this 60 Minutes report he chooses to respond to the assertion that Israeli soldiers visiting the City of David tourist archaeological site operated by Elad.
While visiting the City of David, CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl seemed bothered by the large number of Israeli soldiers who visit the park.

“It’s part of their cultural day to try to learn about what they’re fighting for,” explained Doron Spielman, the site’s international director of development.

But Stahl doesn’t see it that way at all. She accused Israel of using the archaeology site as a political tool to indoctrinate its soldiers. There is an “implicit message” in what tour guides tell the many thousands of visitors, Stahl explained—“that because David conquered the city for the Jews back then, Jerusalem belongs to the Jews today.”

Of course, there is nothing implied or sneaky about the way Jews explain their own history.(Stephen Flurry, CBS: ‘No Evidence’ of King David in Jerusalem, October 22, 2010.)
For the purpose of this post I am not interested in how Israeli soldiers are connected to this topic. Here the main topic is about the people living in Silwan today.

But what's amazing is what is not mentioned about that report.

Demolitions? What Demolitions?

Another aspect of the 60 Minutes report not mentioned is how it discusses plans regarding the creation of an archaeology theme park that requires the demolition of Palestinian homes in Silwan. As may be seen above these plans date back to 2005 at least. (PCG did mention this elsewhere but not in direct connection with the 60 Minutes report.) The CBS reporter interviews the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, and brings up the fact that homes will be demolished to build this park. The mayor then tries to insinuates that no house will be demolished, then the next moment saying that those people will be moved to better locations so it is not a demolition.
LESLEY STAHL: I heard you wanted to evict people. Where are those houses?

NIR BARKAT: That's just not true.

STAHL: Well, if you make a park then those houses can't be there anymore.

BARKAT: They musn't have been there in the first place.

STAHL: So you will evict. You will evict.

BARKAT: Not evict. When you improve their quality of life the right word to say is that you're dealing with improvement of quality of life. (Source.)
At least when Brad MacDonald talked about this topic he never insinuated that there would be no demolition. He did denigrate the Palestinians of Silwan as living in a slum and venomously (and absurdly) accused them of being part of some hostile conspiracy by the surrounding Arabs and Iran to spite the State of Israel by just staying in their homes. And MacDonald did minimize these demolitions by saying those Palestinians would be compensated. But even he never denied, or even seemed to deny, that those homes were to be demolished. 

The Shadow of Demolition

But while PCG's Brad MacDonald was willing to speak out in support of the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in Silwan (while saying the dwellings were illegal and that those Palestinians would be compensated) it worth mentioning that those 88 Palestinian homes are far from the only homes facing the prospect of demolition.

Here is what Dr. Yonatan Mizrachi, the Jewish archaeologist cited above in the 2008 article, had to say about the situation in Silwan today. It seems that things are not going well for the Palestinians trying to stay in their homes in Silwan.
After seven years of activism and struggle in Silwan, the settlers are winning — big time. The biggest losers so far are the Palestinian residents, and especially those activists standing front and center in the struggle for their homes and identity. Seven years of struggle and Silwan’s residents can’t claim even one tangible and clear victory. Not one home has been returned to its original residents, not one settler has left Silwan and the “City of David” archaeological site is only becoming a stronger national tourism destination. More so, among the Palestinians, some of them lost their homes, some have been persecuted and arrested by the police based on various accusations, some of them have lost their sources of income and some have been physically harmed. Some of them have been harmed in more ways than one. But the common denominator among everyone is the feeling — or maybe the knowledge — that they are still being oppressed by the authorities and the settlers.
The struggles in Silwan take place in very low resolution: every house, street, archeological excavation or tunnel dug is part of the political battle and affects the residents’ lives. It’s very difficult to understand the political significance of every action or project like this. But when you connect all of the various dots in Silwan it becomes clear that it’s all related. The houses, the excavations and the tunnels are part of one goal: building the Israeli “City of David” in place of Palestinian Silwan. It appears that the difficulty in grasping the details permits the settlers to continue advancing their various plans and to claim that the efforts and goals are not one and the same. (Yonatan Mizrachi, In Silwan, the settlers are winning - big time, +972, October 1, 2014.)
Some of these Palestinians of Silwan have lost their homes and their sources of income because of these hardliner settlers supported by Elad. Consequently even if the archaeological digs PCG is associated with has nothing to do with Elad it nevertheless inflames this tense situation.

Here is another account of the situation in Silwan.
Silwan is located adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem, just a short walk from the Dung Gate. Like other neighbourhoods of Palestinian East Jerusalem along with the city of Hebron, the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills, Silwan has undergone an accelerated process of ethnic cleansing and influx of Israeli settlers over recent years. Two neighbourhoods within Silwan have been targeted - Wadi Hilweh, called City of David by Israelis, and al-Bustan. In both neighbourhoods the process has been headed by a settler organization, Elad, working in association with the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality. Using various legal pretexts including an Israeli law that allows for the demolition of any building thought to be covering up archaeological evidence of Jewish history, significant tracts of land have been acquired and properties demolished in order to proceed with the construction of an archaeological park/tourist attraction designated the 'Garden of the King'. [Footnote: For an authoritative analysis of this process, see Meron Rapaport, Shady dealings in Silwan. Jerusalem: Ir Amim, 2009.] The result of such a process has been predictable - a sustained conflict characterised by repeated clashes between locals and settlers and Israeli security forces. It is perhaps the most unstable flash-point of the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict given the dire situation of Silwan's residents and its proximity to the Holy sites within the Old City itself. (Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby, Popular Protest in Palestine, 2015, Chapter 5.)
And PCG thinks it is a good idea to send their members to an archaeological dig located near the suburb that may be " the most unstable flash-point of the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict"?

The Plight of Palestinians in Silwan

The following is from a report last year about the situation in Silwan after Israeli settlers moved into seven homes in East Jerusalem in September last year. At least one home belonged to a family that suddenly found themselves bereft of their own home.
In the building’s internal stairwell that connects the apartments, sits Bushra Hayat, whose eyes are dashing back and forth tracking the police officers walking into the apartment that until yesterday was hers. “We have two apartments here, one that my father rents out and we live in the other one. The two apartments were empty yesterday. My father wasn’t here and I slept at my uncle’s house, here, downstairs. They knew ahead of time when the houses would be empty and that’s why they came [now].” ...

Inside the building, Bushra is going up and down the stairs, making her way in between the police officers, trying to steal another glance into the apartment in which settlers are now holed up. Earlier she broke a side window and now through it she can see that the new tenants have already managed to tear down one of the walls. They’ve also already put bars on the outside windows — efficient. All the while, she’s trying to find out how her diabetic father is doing; his condition deteriorated after clashing with the police and he is now in the hospital. “He arrived early in the morning, when he heard. When he got here, they had already changed the locks and he wasn’t able to open the door to the house. I wasn’t able to with my key either.”

“They say that they bought the house,” she continues,” but they haven’t shown us any documents. We asked them — I yelled at them to show us a purchase contract, but they didn’t show us anything.”...
An hour later, Bushra takes advantage of the police officers’ lunch break in order to once again try and go see what’s happening inside the house. “I can’t stand it,” she says, choking up. “They’re sleeping in my bed right now. All of our things are still there. All of the furniture, our clothes, everything. Even my baby brother’s diapers.” (Orly Noy, Settlers take over 7 E. Jerusalem homes in dead of night, +972, September 30, 2014.)
Elad is a part of all this.
In many ways, the settlement in Silwan is considered to be the flagship of the the East Jerusalem settlements, particularly because of its location — nearly touching the Old City’s walls — a short walk from the Dung Gate. The goal is clear: changing the neighborhood’s national (religious demographic) character, first into a mixed Israeli-Palestinian neighborhood, but with aspirations to paint as much land as possible in blue and white.

This project, in which the central player is a settler NGO called Elad, is taking place on two parallel tracks: the first track is taking over public spaces like the City of David National Park run by Elad; the second is by taking over private homes. Some of the homes are handed over to the settlers who claim they have purchased them, and others are taken with the help of official Israel using the Absentee Property Law, despite the fact that a number of attorneys general have been highly critical of the law’s use in Jerusalem. (Orly Noy, Settlers take over 7 E. Jerusalem homes in dead of night, +972, September 30, 2014.)
Imagine that: Sleeping in a relative's place and waking up to discover your home has been taken over by these settlers backed up by police personnel. All your property is still in there and you do not know how you can get your own property back. You question them whether your home has been legally bought and they will not even give you an answer.

And just imagine: PCG claimed that these desperate people who yearn to live in their own homes are part of some sinister conspiracy by Arabs and Iran to spite the State of Israel. Such things are said so that we are blinded to the plight of a Palestinian woman who wakes up to her home and the property in her own home suddenly taken away from her.

Recently a mosque and even a football field in Silwan have been ordered to be demolished.
Israeli municipality officials delivered a demolition order Friday to the al-Qaaqaa Mosque, a house, and a studio apartment in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, local sources told Ma'an. ...

The mosque, built three years ago, is a 110 square meter space that serves 5,000 worshipers. ...

A demolition order was also delivered to a home housing six people.

Earlier this week an Israeli court ruled to demolish a football field and its facilities in Silwan, a local committee said.

The ruling includes the demolition of a 1.5 dunam (.4 acre) sports field as well as a neighboring warehouse and animal shed. (Israel issues demolition order for mosque in East Jerusalem, Ma'an News, August 22, 2015.)
It is the ever present threat of demolitions that causes the Palestinians of Silwan to protest in order to protect themselves from being kicked out of their homes. The Palestinians are there in Silwan. They want to stay in their own homes.

But these hardliners in Elad have used archaeology to shift peoples' focus away from the Palestinians in Silwan and to promote moving settlers into Silwan seemingly with no regard of how this harms relations between Palestinians and Israelis. This connection is highlighted in the following article by Natasha Roth, a Jewish reporter.
The key player in this situation — aside from the government — is the settler group Elad, also behind such activities as taking over Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, and hiring ‘caretakers’ (job requirements: gun ownership) to ‘look after’ empty Palestinian homes earmarked for settlers. The connections between Elad — an organization with a clearly-stated objective of “Judaizing” East Jerusalem — and the government are well-known; specifically, the cooperation of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) with the group has led to the increasing relinquishment of archaeology as an academic pursuit to the organization’s ideological goals. The modus operandi of Elad perfectly encompasses the modern outcomes of archaeology in Israel.
The establishment of the City of David national park and visitors’ center in Silwan is a salient example: the attractive entrance, dulcet music, portentous signs pointing out the area’s Biblical heritage, and the always-reassuring presence of a well-appointed gift shop have an anaesthetizing effect on visitors, and put up a highly-effective smokescreen in front of the reality of the Palestinian connection to (and presence in) the area. (Natasha Roth, Parks and Occupation: Archaeology is the new security, +972, March 7, 2015.)
Keep looking at those Jewish artifacts. Don't look at those Palestinians of Silwan who fear waking up one day to find their home taken over by hardliner settlers.

New York Times Report on Elad (1998)

Elad has been engaged in moving settlers into Silwan for a long time. Here is one report of these happenings from The New York Times dating back from 1998.
JERUSALEM, June 8— Expanding their foothold in East Jerusalem, Jewish settlers moved into four homes in an Arab neighborhood early this morning, setting off a violent confrontation and heightening tension in an area claimed by Israelis and Palestinians.

Acting under cover of darkness, members of the settlement group Elad entered homes that they said they had acquired in Silwan, a village outside Jerusalem's walled Old City. They removed furniture, spread coils of barbed wire and raised Israeli flags. 

''Our aim is to Judaize East Jerusalem,'' declared Yigal Kaufman, a spokesman for Elad, which has bought properties and moved Jews into Silwan in recent years, sometimes displacing Arab tenants. 

''The City of David is the most ancient core of Jerusalem, and we want it to become a Jewish neighborhood,'' Mr. Kaufman added, using the biblical name for the Silwan area, which was the site of the Israelite city of Jerusalem ruled by King David. 

A clash broke out at one house when a group of Palestinians arrived with Israeli peace advocates and removed barbed wire. Witnesses said that settlers had lashed out with sticks and that the Palestinians had thrown stones. Two settlers were assaulted, and Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian cabinet member responsible for Jerusalem affairs, was slightly hurt. Israeli protesters from the Peace Now movement were forcibly evicted by police officers. ...

Elad says it has moved 17 Jewish families into seven housing compounds in Silwan in recent years [before 1998], and has already acquired additional properties there. (Joel Greenburg, Settlers Move Into 4 Homes in East Jerusalem, New York Times, June 9, 1998.)
Let us take note of those Peace Now protesters who were "forcibly evicted" by police officers. Clearly many Israelis of good conscience see that this is not good and wish to live in peace with the Palestinians, even participating in their protests with them. Many Israeli Jews do not approve of what Elad doing there. Some of them even joining in protests and standing with the Palestinians of Silwan against Elad.

At least those settlers bothered to move the furniture out back in 1998. They seem to have lost even that consideration over the years.

The Situation Today

Just a few days ago another twenty settlers moved into Silwan. They seem to be affiliated with another settler organization.  
A group of Israeli settlers moved into an apartment building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Thursday.

The group of at least 20 belongs to the Ateret Cohanim settler organization, which purchases properties in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and has taken legal action in order to evict the Palestinian owners of those buildings. (Settlers take over East Jerusalem home in the dead of night, +972, August 28, 2015.)
Clearly this tense situation is not going to go away anytime soon.

We Deserve to Know the Truth

Elad has politicized archaeology in order to move settlers into Silwan causing all kinds of tension within East Jerusalem. The Palestinians of Silwan fear they will lose their homes and protest against this situation. Israeli Jews who yearn for peace oppose these measures by Elad. This is the dark side of politicized archaeology in East Jerusalem today. This is the heated political situation that PCG have carelessly moved into with their archaeology digs.

Even if the archaeological digs PCG is associated with has nothing to do with Elad it nevertheless inflames this tense situation.

Why on Earth does PCG think it is a good idea to get involved in archaeology in the Holy Land? How does this contribute to peace?

PCG should get out of this archaeology arrangement. Armstrongism has already caused enough trouble in the Holy Land already.

Further Resources

Joel Greenburg, Settlers Move Into 4 Homes in East Jerusalem, New York Times, June 9, 1998.

Meron Rapaport, Shady Dealings in Silwan, Ir Amim, 2009.

60 Minutes, Jerusalem: City of David, 2010.

Orly Noy, Settlers take over 7 E. Jerusalem homes in dead of night, +972, September 30, 2014.

Yonatan Mizrachi, In Silwan, the settlers are winning - big time, +972, October 1, 2014.

Vice News, A City Divided: Jerusalem's Most Contested Neighborhood, January 2, 2015.

Natasha Roth, Parks and Occupation: Archaeology is the new security, +972, March 7, 2015.

Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby, Popular Protest in Palestine, 2015.

Israel issues demolition order for mosque in East Jerusalem, Ma'an News, August 22, 2015.

Settlers take over East Jerusalem home in the dead of night, +972, August 28, 2015.

Iran Has Not Conquered Lebanon

In order to "prove" that Gerald Flurry is "That Prophet" PCG's writers have made hysterical announcements that Iran is growing more and more powerful in order to claim that Gerald Flurry's proclamation that Iran is the "King of the South" that he made in 1994. As part of this fear mongering campaign against Iran PCG's writers have proclaimed that Lebanon has been conquered by Iran via Hezbollah.

Here are some examples of PCG's hysterics. Here is one example from May 2008.
First, Iran conquered the Gaza Strip. Now, through Hezbollah, it controls Lebanon. What piece of territory will Iran conquer next?

Hezbollah terrorists recently overthrew the pro-democracy government of Lebanon. Sadly, the international community essentially stood back and let this happen. Everyone knows that Hezbollah operates as a proxy of Iran. A similar scenario occurred in the summer of 2007, when the mullahs in Tehran engineered the overthrow of the Gaza Strip through Hamas. The world was silent then too! (Gerald Flurry, Iran Conquered Lebanon, Now What?, May 19, 2008.)
Here is another example from August 2008.
Do you understand just how dangerous what happened in Lebanon in May truly was? May 9, Iran put a choke hold on Lebanon in order to preserve its position on Israel’s northern frontier. This act of war sounded a death knell for Lebanese democracy, strengthened Iran’s grip on the Middle East, and dramatically increased the threat to Israel and beyond.

Amazingly, the United States and the international community did nothing. ...

What occurred in Lebanon was nothing less than a bleak surrender by Lebanon’s Western-backed governing coalition—and a major victory for the Hezbollah terrorist group and its primary sponsor, Iran.
That the United States, the United Nations and others pretended it was anything else is a measure of their own capitulation to Iran. (Joel Hilliker and Gerald Flurry, Iran Conquered Lebanon...Now What?, August 2008.)
This example is from June 2009.
The real story is more complex, and far less reassuring.

In truth, Hezbollah had no intention of taking over the government of Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said as much before the election. He promoted Maronite Christian Michel Aoun as leader of the Hezbollah political bloc. Hezbollah itself only stood 11 candidates, all of whom won. Its popularity among the Lebanese is unchanged.

Hezbollah is perfectly satisfied with its current position in Lebanon: as the political opposition with veto power. That position will remain—just watch. ...

Hezbollah has already conquered the nation, for all practical purposes—but it is not interested in governing. To characterize its failure to win a legislative majority as a stunning setback and a humiliating defeat ignores the reality of what it is really there to accomplish. (Joel Hilliker, Did Hezbollah Really Lose in Lebanon?, June 10, 2009.)
Here's another one from January 2011.
Back in 2008, Hezbollah brandished its military might in Beirut, forcing the Lebanese government to acquiesce to the Iranian proxy group’s demands for veto power within the government. At the time, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained how those actions meant the death of Lebanese democracy—even while Western media proclaimed that the compromise raised hopes for a more stable future for the country. ...

The events on Wednesday also showcased America’s lack of influence in the country. ...

The last five years have proven America is unable to remove Hezbollah’s choke hold on Lebanon. ...

As America’s influence wanes in the region, Iran is filling the void. Its choke hold on Lebanon is complete, and it’s now maneuvering to use the same strategy in Iraq. (Victor Vejil, Iran-Backed Hezbollah Topples Lebanon’s Government, January 14, 2011.)
Don't these people in Edmond remember the Lebanese Civil War? Lebanon happens to be divided into numerous sectarian groups.

Consequently even though it seems Hezbollah is on top of the pecking order in some ways it can be reliably assumed that other groups will keep Hezbollah in check.

Iran has not conquered Lebanon.

Hezbollah has not conquered Lebanon.

Many other political factions are able to operate freely within Lebanon. Some are aligned with Hezbollah. Many others are opposed. The situation is complicated. But at least thankfully there has been no return to the dark days of civil was had raged before. May such a war never again happen in Lebanon.

Because of Gerald Flurry's proclamation in 1994 that Iran is the King of the South PCG is biased towards "proving" this claim and consequently is inclined to play up Iran and Hezbollah's power in viewing events in Lebanon. That is why PCG can make such sensationalist claims like that.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Younger American Jews Overwhelmingly Support Agreement with Iran

From Haaretz:
Older American Jews are closely split on the Iran nuclear agreement. Younger American Jews are not; they support it overwhelmingly. According to a late July poll by the Jewish Journal (the only one I’ve seen that breaks down Jewish opinion by age), American Jews under 40 back the deal by 34 percentage points, almost twice the margin among American Jews as a whole. (Peter Beinart, The Latest Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, Haaretz, August 27, 2015.)

Over 540,000 Sign Petition Calling for Gaza's Blockade to be Lifted

Avaaz has released a petition calling for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.
A year after the devastating war on Gaza, thousands of children are still sleeping in the rubble of their homes.

Even though it is a clear violation of international law, Israel's blockade has restricted basic building materials going in. But no child should be made to live in the ruins of their home, study with bomb blasts through their classrooms, or not get basic health care because clinics have been destroyed.

We have a plan to change this -- Avaaz has joined forces with top aid agencies working in Gaza to launch an emergency campaign to call on key donors to get the materials in. As the main governments paying to rebuild Gaza, they can insist Israel lifts the restrictions.

If we create a worldwide outcry too loud to ignore, we can push our governments to move beyond words, and ramp up diplomacy to end the blockade. Sign the petition -- it’s time to show our leaders inaction on this humanitarian crisis is unacceptable. (Avaaz.)
  Here is the petition addressed to world leaders:
To UN Special Coordinator Mladenov, Presidents Obama and Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, PM Cameron, Sheikh Al Thani, EU VP Mogherini, and all other world leaders:

One year on from the Israeli military operation in Gaza, we are calling on you to press Israel to end the blockade and to immediately remove wood, steel bars, cement, aggregates, and other essential construction materials from the list of items restricted from entering the Gaza Strip. World leaders have pledged $3.5 billion to rebuild Gaza, but Israeli restrictions on the entry of building material are costing reconstruction efforts incalculable delays. Not one of the 19,000 homes destroyed in Gaza has been rebuilt in the last year. As concerned citizens, we urge you to take action to press for an end to these restrictions now. (Avaaz.)
So far over 538,000 have signed this petition.

Considering how desperate so many of the people of Gaza are because of this blockade how dare PCG have minimized the severity of this blockade to their readers.
The Gaza embargo, keep in mind, never prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians—only weapons from falling into the hands of the genocidal government that controls Gaza. That is why Israel demanded the “freedom flotilla” to dock at an Israeli port—so shipments could be offloaded, inspected and then delivered to the people of Gaza.

But by demanding that the coastal blockade be lifted, the international community is basically saying Israel has no right to inspect shipments intended to re-supply Hamas—an untenable arrangement from Israel’s perspective, if ever there was one. (Stephen Flurry, Israel the Outcast, August 2010.)
But, according to this petition by Avaaz, the blockade blocks access to construction materials. How can the people of Gaza be expected to be happy when the blockade prevents them from rebuilding their homes and their schools?

PCG's Misinformation About the Blockade

How unfortunate it is that PCG has, unintentionally or intentionally, misinformed their readers on this matter.

Back in 2010, shortly after the infamous mass killing that occurred on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 in which ten Turkish men died (one was rendered comatose and died four years later), the State of Israel lessened the blockade at the time. PCG presented this move as though the blockade had ended.
Israel has given in to Hamas and effectively ended the blockade of the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, Israel announced it will now allow anything into Hamas-controlled Gaza as long as it cannot be used for military purposes. An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the land blockade, which had been in place since September 2007, had been aimed at weakening Hamas and gaining the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The lack of progress on both counts, he explained, is what is behind the change in policy. (The Week in Review, June 25, 2010.)
Just a few days before making this sensationalist statement PCG noted in another article that the blockade by sea would be maintained.
Responding to the international uproar over the incident, Israel’s security cabinet voted Thursday to expand the range of goods allowed into Gaza via land, while maintaining the sea blockade. (The Week in Review, June 18, 2010.)
PCG completely failed to foresee that the blockade would still be in force five years later. This shows PCG's tendency towards sensationalism that so often may give one a slanted perspective on issues.

In 2012 following an incident in which a ship was prevented from breaking the blockade by Israel PCG states that the blockade is in force.
The incident is the latest in a series of deliberate provocations aimed at denouncing Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The blockade has been in effect since 2007, when Israel instituted the blockade to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the region after Hamas gained control of it. Since then, a number of flotillas have sailed for Gaza under the auspice of providing aid to the region. One such expedition made international news in 2010 when Israeli troops were attacked while boarding a flotilla from Turkey, resulting in the death of nine Turkish activists. (Israel Seizes Gaza-Bound Ship, October 22, 2012.)
One of those Turkish men who died that night was an American citizen.

How unfortunate it is that PCG has, unintentionally or not, misled their readers on this matter thus obscuring the severity of the blockade and misinforming people.

The Blockade is Bad for Israel (and Everyone Else)

It would be good for the blockade to be ended. Not everyone in Gaza is of Hamas. Why punish them for what Hamas does?

Some of the Palestinians of Gaza happen to be Christians. Not many. Palestinian Christians tend to live in the West Bank but there are still some Palestinian Christians in Gaza. They also live behind the blockade. 

This blockade politically polarizes the situation making that much harder to find common ground to create an agreement.

Also the blockade is bad for the State of Israel. The blockade incentivizes Hamas to be desperate and do anything to try and end it. The blockade and the hostile relations between the State of Israel and Hamas helped contribute to the tragic wars that occurred in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014.

Furthermore the blockade hampers the ability of the people of Gaza to find good employment and make a living. Currently Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world, 43 percent. This is partly caused by the blockade. The following information from the World Bank is worth considering in this matter.
The report estimates that Gaza’s GDP would have been about four times higher than it currently is if it weren’t for the conflicts and the multiple restrictions. It also states that the blockade in place since 2007 has shaved around 50 percent off Gaza’s GDP.  Unemployment in Gaza is the highest in the world at 43 percent. Even more alarming is the situation of youth unemployment which soared to more than 60 percent by the end of 2014. (Gaza Economy on the Verge of Collapse, Youth Unemployment Highest in the Region at 60 Percent, The World Bank, May 21, 2015.)
What are those unemployed people supposed to do?

What if some recruiter approaches such a person who is struggling to make a living and ask him to join an armed group?

What if such an unemployed person is asked to help build a tunnel, quite likely under dangerous conditions?

So long as the blockade is in force such people desperate for employment will see little choice but to pursue such risky options. Such dangerous options seem much more attractive to those unemployed behind the blockade struggling to find work.

Those behind the blockade have all the time in the world to build their tunnels, either to Egypt to get supplies, or into Israel to prepare for the next round of war, since there is so little employment available in Gaza, partly because of the blockade.

The blockade may have had the effect of strengthening Hamas' rule in Gaza. With so many unemployed and desperate for work if Hamas presented an employment opportunity to people how could anyone refuse such an offer while facing such desperate circumstances?

This blockade, and the subsequent reduction of employment choices for the people of Gaza, fuels conflict and makes a future war practically a certainty. That is a terrible fact. It is to be dearly hoped that someone will prevent such a frightful thing from happening.

In last year's war in Gaza many Israeli soldiers went into Gaza to try and blow up tunnels that headed into Israel. Some Israeli soldiers died doing this. And what has happened? The war ended. Hamas is still in power. The blockade is still in force. Consequently many of the people of Gaza are still unemployed and desperate for employment. What alternative is there for the people of Gaza to prevent them from rebuilding those tunnels? So long as the blockade is in force those behind have all the time in the world to rebuild those tunnels. What else are they going to do?

The blockade is bad for everyone. It is bad for the Palestinians of Gaza. It is bad for the State of Israel because the blockade fuels the conflict. It is bad for everyone.

If the blockade is lifted other, more humane options to manage this terrible conflict will then be available.

The blockade, now in its ninth year, has clearly failed to depose Hamas. Is the blockade supposed to unseat Hamas after ten years? Why expect that after the blockade failed has to do this after nine years?

The blockade clearly is not helping to unseat Hamas in Gaza. Why not try something else and move away from a policy that has clearly failed?

Those Who Live in Petra

The Armstrongites will never go to Petra as a Place of Safety. This is merely a false prophecy that will never be fulfilled.

But there are people who live there and here is a documentary about those who live in Petra.

Is J Street "anti-Israel"?

While writing a previous post about a column by Caroline Glick in The Jerusalem Post I could not help but notice how she denounced J Street as a "Jewish anti-Israel organization".
Jewish anti-Israel organizations such as J Street, Open Hillel and the New Israel Fund in the US, and European governments and government- funded organizations in Europe have operated largely free from criticism by official Israeli voices unwilling to take sides in the debate about the country’s right to exist and defend itself. (Caroline Glick, The New Government's War on BDS, Jerusalem Post, June 4, 2015.) 
J Street is "anti-Israel"? How can that be? It is an organization mainly composed of Jews. What is going on here?

Maybe we should take a look at the other side of this story. To compare Glick's comment let us compare it with the following column by Chemi Shelev, a columnist for Haaretz.
Now it’s J Street, which one way or another represents a sizeable chunk of American Jewry, that is first barred from joining the Conference of Presidents and is now being denounced for daring to buck the line adopted by much of the organized establishment in connection to the Iran deal. The fact that J-Street seems to be reflecting the opinion of a majority American Jews, mind you, makes no impression on the group’s detractors.

Together with J-Street in the right-wing’s rogues gallery is the perennial favorite, the New Israel Fund (NIF) - a bunch of idealistic Jewish do-gooders if I ever saw one - which is repeatedly defamed, maligned and falsely accused of supporting the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement. NIF is so toxic that its poison apparently spreads to anyone who happens to support it or come in contact with it.... (Chemi Shelev, 10 Comments on Mike Huckabee and the Purveyors of Jewish Hate-porn, Haaretz, July 28, 2015.)
Based on these words by Shelev it would appear that J Street is viewed with disdain by many right wingers. So to call J Street "anti-Israel" appears to be partisan rhetoric by right wingers against left wingers rather than an accurate description of J Street.

Rabin and Netanyahu on Iran: The Difference

Like Netanyahu today Prime Minister Rabin also announced his fear of Iran. But unlike Netanyahu it would appear that Rabin had other things in mind when he talked about Iran.
For Rabin, Iran was a reason to solve Israel's other problems. For Netanyahu, it's been an excuse to ignore them. (Gershom Gorenburg, No, Netanyahu Wasn't the First to Notice the Geiger Counter Clicking in Iran, Haaretz, August 26, 2015.)
This characterization of how Rabin viewed Iran compared with Netanyahu today echoes Gareth Fraser in his book Manufactured Crisis
For Rabin, invoking an extraordinary new threat from Iran had an immediate domestic political objective: deflecting Israeli animosity away from the Palestinians and providing political cover for Rabin's moves for peace with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). ... [Porter later cites an aide of Rabin who asserted] that it was Rabin's interest in opening talks with the PLO that drove the new policy toward Iran. (Gareth Porter, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, 2014, Chapter 5.)
So it would seem that Rabin talked about Iran in order to make peace with the Palestinians so that the State of Israel could be more focused upon Iran.

How unfortunate it is that this aspect of Rabin's policy towards Iran has, it appears, since been lost by his successors.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ADL Report on Racist Extremism

When Jews migrated to the United States, alas, they were often discriminated against. In response American Jews chose to stand up against xenophobia and racism and worked to help create a society fair to all regardless of ethnicity and religion. One American Jew, Leo Frank, was lynched by a racist mob in 1913. Some American Jews were even killed in the civil rights struggle against racial segregation.

Continuing this proud tradition the Anti-Defamation League has released a report discussing the present state of racist white supremacists in the United States. It was published shortly after the horrifying racist terrorist attack in Charleston.

It is entitled With Hate in their Hearts: The State of White Supremacy in the United States.
The white supremacist movement has a number of different components, including 1) neo-Nazis; 2) racist skinheads; 3) “traditional” white supremacists; 4) Christian Identity adherents; and 5) white supremacist prison gangs.
"Christian Identity" is a racist extremist movement derived from British Israelism and thus related to Armstrongism. Like Armstrongism they also believe that white Americans are the descendants of the Biblical Israelites. But unlike they Armstrongism they hate the Jews. "Christian Identity" has been discussed in previous posts.
However, generally speaking, white supremacists of whatever sort adhere to at least one of the following beliefs:  1) whites should be dominant over people of other backgrounds; 2) whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society; 3) white people have their own “culture” that is superior to other cultures; and 4) white people are genetically superior to other people. Anti-Semitism is also important for the majority of white supremacists, most of whom actually believe that Jews constitute a race of their own—a race with parasitic and evil roots.
So one of the features of white supremacy is that "whites should be dominant over people of other backgrounds".

Is this why Armstrongism traditionally demonized Japan even though they have been allies of the United States since 1945?

Is this why many Armstrongites chose to sympathize with the apartheid regime in South Africa instead of the vast majority of the population who yearned to be equal citizens in their own homeland?

The ADL says more about "Christian Identity".
Christian Identity is a religious sect whose roots extend back well into the 19th century. It is a modern racist and anti-Semitic variation on British-Israelism, an older faith whose central tenet is that Europeans, or people of European extraction, are actually descended from the so-called “Lost Tribes” of ancient Israel, scattered after invasions of the region by Hittites, Assyrians and Babylonians.

By the mid-20th century, some adherents of British Israelism began to adopt racist and anti-Semitic interpretations of scripture; these ideas evolved into what is now called Christian Identity. One central tenet is the belief that non-whites were created by God not at the time that God made “man,” but rather when he created the “beasts of the field.”  Christian Identity adherents often refer to non-whites as “mud peoples.”  Additionally, many Christian Identity believers contend that Jews are actually descended from Satan through a sexual liaison between Eve and the serpent. Sometimes people refer to Christian Identity as “fundamentalist,” but it is not.
And to think these racist extremists are related to Armstrongism through British Israelism.

ADL Condemns Dehumanizing Rhetoric Against Supporters of the Agreement with Iran

The Anti-Defamation League has condemned dehumanizing rhetoric used against those who support the recent agreement with Iran.
The Anti-Defamation League said the backlash against congressmen who announced their support for the nuclear deal with Iran has crossed the line, especially noting Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who suffered "obscene and offensive comments."

"Hateful rhetoric that invokes Nazism and demonizes an individual is unacceptable. It has absolutely no place in public discourse, particularly when referring to a widely respected public servant like Mr. Nadler," said a statement, issued on Wednesday by ADL National Director Jonathan A. Greenblatt and Evan R. Bernstein, ADL New York regional director.

The statement listed several of the comments found on Nadler's Facebook page, posted after he announced his support of the deal, saying they were "replete with Nazi analogies, vulgarities and obscenities, including references to him as a 'stinking kapo,' a coward and traitor to the U.S. and Israel, and one particularly appalling statement that read, 'When you die there no place for you on Jewish cemetery.'" (Haaretz, ADL Says Attacks Against Lawmakers Supporting Iran Deal Have 'Crossed the Line', August 27, 2015.)
This is a good statement.

If one opposes the agreement with Iran then oppose it. Make an argument to persuade people to oppose.

But to demonize those who support this agreement as though they were just like the Nazis who infamously murdered six million Jews in a campaign of genocide that horrifies the world to this day is a terrible thing that, among things, trivializes the horror of what happened in the Holocaust. 

In a previous post it was mentioned that one Arutz Sheva columnist used this type of incendiary language against Secretary of State John Kerry calling him an "ever-obedient Kapo". That is precisely the sort of incendiary language condemned by the ADL.

HWA's "Feast of Tabernacles" is a Perversion

Saw this picture on Banned by HWA.

This is yet more evidence of how terrible HWA's humanly devised feasts are.

The actual Feast of Tabernacles described in the Bible was a harvest festival. Those who celebrated it made tents on their own property and celebrated it there.

They would have been too busy doing the harvest to do what the Armstrongite do at that time.

The Armstrongites go far away in the countryside to meet up with those who believe HWA's teachings and go through an eight day indoctrination conference. This is completely different from how the Jews celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. It was HWA who perverted the Feast of Tabernacles into an eight day Armstrongite indoctrination conference.

Clearly it was used to force his followers to spend their money on ingratiating themselves into the WCG cult thus destroying their own individuality.

HWA's Feast is a man made tradition that HWA devised. It is a perversion of what was written in the Bible. Armstrongites are under no obligation from God to observe HWA's perverted indoctrination conference. It was HWA and his collaborators who imposed this feast on their followers. 

More on this topic may be seen in the previous post: HWA's Error Regarding the Feast.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Armed Guards at LCG in Kansas City

Banned by HWA is reporting that the LCG congregation in Kansas City has employed armed guards to protect the congregation.

So it seems LCG's leaders in Kansas City are worried someone might attack them.

Perhaps they should be more worried if one of those guards happened to have an accident with those guns or played around with it out of boredom.

I dearly hope nothing like that ever happens.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Is the Iran Agreement as Terrible as Netanyahu Says?

From The Forward:
Netanyahu has ordered every level of Israeli officialdom to muzzle any discussion of the deal’s possible upsides. Central to his strategy is his insistence that the deal is an unmitigated catastrophe. Orders are to depict it as so ruinous that no outcome is acceptable short of its absolute defeat.

The prime minister and his allies insist Israel is united behind his unequivocal rejection of the deal. The cowering silence of the political opposition has helped him nurture the myth. But it’s a myth.

Now comes word that his intelligence community is defying the gag order and telling him otherwise. (J. J. Goldburg, The Game-Changing Iran Report That Bibi Fears, The Forward, August 21, 2015.)

Is PCG Ignoring Israel's Acceptance of Gays?

Back in June PCG's Brent Nagtegaal made the following post on Twitter promoting a column in The Jerusalem Post by Caroline Glick, a columnist often cited by PCG.
"The movement is a proxy war!" - 's latest.
In that column Glick condemns the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Did Nagtegaal fail to note this part of the column?
But so long as the word “peace” has been involved, or the boycotters have pretended that they are only referring to Judea, Samaria [meaning the West Bank] and Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry has by and large taken them at face value and pretended that their smear operation is nothing to worry about.

To the extent they have tried to deal with the growing hate Israel phenomenon, they have run away from its essence. Instead, our senior diplomats have said that the best way to combat BDS is by rebranding Israel as the start-up, gay, friendly state with great beaches. (Caroline Glick, The New Government's War on BDS, Jerusalem Post, June 4, 2015.)
What is Glick talking about there?

This seems to be an allusion to Brand Israel, an branding campaign conducted by various pro-Israel organizations since 2005 to portray the State of Israel as a leading nation in research and development, culture and, among things, being friendly to gays.

It is marketed towards those who tend to be liberal politically speaking so Armstrongites, who tend to lean to the right in regards to politics, will be inclined not to notice. It is not advertised at them.

This branding exercise was reported on by Sarah Schulman, an American Jewish academic, in The New York Times.
In 2005, with help from American marketing executives, the Israeli government began a marketing campaign, “Brand Israel,” aimed at men ages 18 to 34. The campaign, as reported by The Jewish Daily Forward, [as may be seen elsewhere] sought to depict Israel as “relevant and modern.” The government later expanded the marketing plan by harnessing the gay community to reposition its global image.

Last year, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Tel Aviv tourism board had begun a campaign of around $90 million to brand the city as “an international gay vacation destination.” The promotion, which received support from the Tourism Ministry and Israel’s overseas consulates, includes depictions of young same-sex couples and financing for pro-Israeli movie screenings at lesbian and gay film festivals in the United States. ...

This message is being articulated at the highest levels. In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was “a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted.” (Sarah Schulman, Israel and ‘Pinkwashing’, The New York Times, November 22, 2011.)
That seems to be what Glick is referring to above. An advertising campaign marketing the State of Israel towards gays funded by Israeli governmental officials.

Did Nagtegaal simply not notice this? Was he never curious about what Glick was referring to?

Now, none of this is to insinuate that Israel is completely accepting of gays. That is not completely the case, of course, as evidenced by the horrifying stabbing rampage of six people, one of whom was murdered, that occurred in the Jerusalem Pride Parade recently. But the State of Israel did allow gays to openly serve in the military before the United States did.

Unfortunately part of being a COG member is to believe certain things. One of them is belief in Armstrongite dogma concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is simplistically presented in a black and white manner. One side is good. The other side is bad. Consequently information that may cause the COG follower to doubt the Armstrongite dogma is collectively ignored. They fixate so much on information they agree with they fail to notice information contrary to the Armstrongite dogma they believe in. So they are less likely to notice something like Israeli government officials running an advertising campaign promoting their country to gays.

So of course Glick's allusion to all this was not viewed as worthy of mention.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Palestinian Christians and Muslims Protesting Consruction of the Wall at Beit Jala

From +972, an Israeli media outlet. 
Hundreds of Muslim and Christian Palestinians protested Sunday morning in the West Bank town of Beit Jala against the future establishment of the separation wall that would cut them off from Jerusalem. (Source.)

Did Hamas Split From Iran?

Recently PCG has been saying that Hamas has split from Iran. They have been insisting that Hamas and Iran will split away from each other. They have been saying this since at least 2012.

This idea appears to be connected to Gerald Flurry's doctrine of "the Psalm 83 nations" which was unveiled as "new revelation" in 2011.

Below we see Stephen Flurry promoting the idea that Iran and Hamas are now estranged.
Are we seeing a break between Iran and the Palestinian group Hamas? ...

Regular Trumpet readers know this is significant because of a prophecy in Psalm 83, which specifically identifies two Middle Eastern power blocs in this end time. According to the prophecy, Hamas and Syria will be on the opposite side of the Iranian power bloc. With Syria’s regime hanging in the balance, it’s clear now more than ever that the Syrian-Iranian alliance’s days are numbered.

Added to that, it now appears that we are in the early stages of divorce between Iran and Hamas.

Just as my father forecasted on the The Key of David several months ago, “[I]t looks very much like that Iran is going to also lose the Gaza terrorists, and they’re going to shift their alliance … as well.” (Stephen Flurry, Iran Shuns Hamas, August 27, 2012.)
But is this assertion true?

I am not going to try to answer this question directly. But it should be noted that just a few days ago The Jerusalem Post (August 19) reported that an Iranian propaganda video had been released onto the Internet.

The propaganda video portrays armed men advancing onto Jerusalem (in a completely unrealistic manner).
The video shows soldiers and operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian-backed Shia Badr Organization, Hezbollah, and the Hamas movement's Kassam Brigades. (The Jerusalem Post.)
Whoever in Iran made that video does not live in PCG's information bubble. Whoever in Iran made that propaganda video thinks Iran and Hamas are allied with each other against the State of Israel.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Garner Ted Armstrong's Evasive Comment Regarding Infamous 1969 Attack on al Aqsa Mosque

The following comment by Garner Ted Armstrong alluding to the infamous arson attack against al Aqsa Mosque in 1969 may be found in an article by his son and successor Mark Armstrong.
"Just the other day [while visiting the Holy Land in the early 1990s], I was reading the Jerusalem Post in my room in Jerusalem's Hyatt Regency Hotel. A letter from an indignant citizen took issue with Arab charges that the `Jews had tried to burn down the A1 [sic] Aqsa mosque' many years earlier when considerable damage was done by an arsonist.
"The writer pointed out that a `deranged Australian' not a Jew and certainly not a citizen of Israel, had torched the mosque. (Source.)
That "deranged Australian", Denis Michael Rohan, was partly influenced by Armstrongism. He was a subscriber to The Plain Truth. Garner Ted Armstrong was the executive editor for The Plain Truth back in 1969, second only to his father Herbert Armstrong.

Rohan's arson attack caused intense trouble. It destroyed a famous 800 year old pulpit dating back to the time of Saladin. It almost provoked a Palestinian intifada.

Astonishingly Garner Ted Armstrong writes about this tragic act of vandalism as though it had nothing to do with him or with his inflammatory speculations that a third temple is fated to be built before the Great Tribulation. How disgraceful.

Soon after that visit Garner Ted Armstrong was disgraced and kicked out out of his own group because of shameful behavior.

Priceless Artifact Destroyed by Man Influenced by Armstrongism in 1969

Below is a 1905 photo of the famous minbar (pulpit) that was in al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It was a priceless historical artifact dating back to the 12th Century.

This irreplaceable 800 year old minbar was destroyed by an Australian man partly influenced by Armstrongism named Denis Michael Rohan.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the origins of this historical minbar.
The minbar ("pulpit") of the mosque was built by a craftsman named Akhtarini from Aleppo on the orders of the Zengid sultan Nur ad-Din. It was intended to be a gift for the mosque when Nur ad-Din would capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders and took six years to build (1168–74). Nur ad-Din died and the Crusaders still controlled Jerusalem, but in 1187, Saladin captured the city and the minbar was installed. The structure was made of ivory and carefully crafted wood. Arabic calligraphy, geometrical and floral designs were inscribed in the woodwork.
Tragically it was destroyed by Denis Michael Rohan, an Australian man partly influenced by Armstrongism. He was a subscriber to The Plain Truth. This terrible act continues to poison relations to this day.

This is what happened in regards to the minbar afterwards.
After its destruction by Rohan in 1969, it was replaced by a much simpler minbar. In January 2007, Adnan al-Husayni—head of the Islamic waqf in charge of al-Aqsa—stated that a new minbar would be installed; it was installed in February 2007. The design of the new minbar was drawn by Jamil Badran based on an exact replica of the Saladin Minbar and was finished by Badran within a period of five years. The minbar itself was built in Jordan over a period of four years and the craftsmen used "ancient woodworking methods, joining the pieces with pegs instead of nails, but employed computer images to design the pulpit [minbar]."
Recently there has been much justified outrage and sadness at the recent acts of vandalism against historical artifacts by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's lackeys (ISIL). How frightening it is that a man influenced by Armstrongism should do something like that as well.

Sabbatarian Pastor Convicted of Fraud

Banned by HWA is reporting that Jim Staley, leader of "Passion for Truth Ministries", who appears to have been an influence to some Armstrongites, has been convicted of fraud.

Here are some excerpts from an article about this from Rawstory which is linked to in Banned by HWA's post.
Although [Jim Staley] apologized, the daughter of a man who lost $155,000 in Staley’s scam said it wasn’t sincere and was staged for church members.

His victims were not members of his parish. ...

Staley has only paid a tiny fraction of restitution owed to victims — $1,950, despite the fact he lives rent free with an annual church salary of $127,000. (Rawstory.)
Here's more from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Prosecutors said [Jim Staley] continued to sell the investment — bundled life insurance policies — and recruit salespeople after realizing the product wasn’t selling and after being ordered to stop. He failed to tell investors about a state cease-and-desist order.
Staley worked as a sales agent for a California company named B&B Equity Group. Other agents and those who recruited them faced criminal investigations elsewhere.
Asked if it appeared that Staley truly accepted responsibility, Collins quoted an earlier statement by Rosenblum about some who put on different faces for different people. “That might just be the face that Staley put on today,” she said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)
Guess who decided to speak sympathetically for the convicted Jim Staley? Joseph Farah, leader of the far right media outlet, WorldNetDaily.

WorldNetDaily has been quoted numerous times by UCG, PCG, LCG and RCG as an authoritative media source.

WorldNetDaily sells some of Staley's DVDs. The quote below is from a WorldNetDaily article.
Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND, said the company will continue to sell Staley’s teaching videos and books.

“Jim Staley is one of the most gifted Bible teachers I know,” he said. “It’s unfortunate he is being punished for something that took place a long time ago, long before he entered the ministry – charges for which he was previously investigated and cleared by state authorities. I pray Jim comes through this and will be able to hold his family together in this time of great challenge.” (Source.)

RCG Quoting WorldNetDaily

As seen in previous posts UCG, PCG and LCG have all quoted from the far right wing media outlet WorldNetDaily without ever bothering to mention to their readers that it leans far to the right politically speaking or criticizing anything quoted from them.

Dave Pack's group, the Restored Church of God, has also quoted WorldNetDaily. It is never even mentioned that WorldNetDaily happens to be far to the right in regards to politics. Just like UCG, PCG and LCG it is never even mentioned WorldNetDaily is right wing and is never criticized.

I have not linked to the articles in question because of reports that RCG's websites use cookies to make advertising for RCG appear on one's Internet browser. Consequently these articles are not linked to here.


Ohio newspaper the Canton Repository reported that 65 out of 490 female students—13 percent—at a Canton high school are pregnant. ...  Source: Canton Repository; NewsNet5; WorldNetDaily (65 Girls at Ohio School are Pregnant, August 31, 2005.)

In the Netherlands, a government health official has called for a controversial debate on whether to force abortions and mandatory contraception in order to, in her view, solve a “crisis of unwanted children.” ... Source: WorldNetDaily (Mandatory Abortion in Holland?, March 3, 2006.)

John Williams, an econometrician who tracks the broadest measure of U.S. money supply (M3) after the Federal Reserve stopped reporting it in March 2006, told World Net Daily, “You’re dealing with mass psychology here. The central bankers around the world know they are going [to] take a hit on their dollar holdings. None of the central bankers want to start a dollar panic, but none of the central bankers want to be the last out of the dollar, either.”
Mr. Williams said the M3 is growing at a 9.6% rate and trending higher as opposed to an 8% rate earlier in the year. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is in a bind. “Raising rates would kill any chance of avoiding a recession, but in terms of the dollar, we can’t raise rates fast enough when the dollar starts to slip quickly,” he said. (A Crushing Mountain of Debt, January 2007.)

Another famous minister asserted, “If one depends on the Bible as a guidepost for living, it is readily apparent that war is sometimes a necessary option” (“God is pro-war,” Jerry Falwell, WorldNetDaily). (David C. Pack, The Red Horse – “You Shall Hear of Wars…”, 2008.)